Peter Kunze’s research and teaching interests include US media history, media aesthetics, industry studies, convergence culture, and children’s media. He regularly teaches Film Analysis, Disney and US Culture, Feminist Film Studies, Race and the Hollywood Musical, Storytelling Across Media, and Wes Anderson and World Cinema as well as introductory courses in media studies. His book, "Staging a Comeback: Broadway, Hollywood, and the Disney Renaissance," examines the influence of theatrically-trained talent on Disney and of Disney on the theatre industry through a revisionist history of the Disney Renaissance. It is forthcoming from Rutgers University Press.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Media & Culture
Theatre and Film
Story & Narrative
University of Texas at Austin: Ph.D., Media Studies
Florida State University: Ph.D., English
Florida State University: M.A., English
Rowan University: B.A., Communication and English
Media Appearances (2)
‘The Little Mermaid’s’ Black Ariel fits in the tradition of the musical
The Washington Post online
With this new live-action production of “The Little Mermaid,” Disney is again taking a step forward. The new film also reflects the tradition of the musical genre, by gesturing toward the hope and promise of social unity while taking cautious advances to make it a reality. Casting Bailey as Ariel is not a violation of some sacred text. Instead, the move creates space for communities who have too often been excluded in a genre all about inclusion.
Disney v DeSantis: how a corporate behemoth turned beacon of diversity
The Guardian online
Disney has also previously been criticized by Democratic-aligned, pro-LGBTQ+ groups for failing to include openly gay characters in films or stand up for human rights, including in 2020, when parts of Mulan were found to have been filmed in Xinjiang where Uyghur Muslims have been detained in mass internment camps by Chinese authorities. “The longstanding critique the left has had is the way that the state and corporations are in bed with each other. We now find that they are at odds with each other,” said the Disney historian Peter C Kunze. “It’s eye-crossing that a company that those of us on the left have criticized we now find defending against authoritarianism.” Kunze has written extensively about Disney’s reluctance to stick up for diversity and inclusion and its indebtedness to queer creators and audiences who helped keep the company afloat during its creative nadir in the 1980s. On the animated side, Kunze credits the openly gay lyricist and director Howard Ashman for creating Disney’s animated musical template that produced The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, all of which went on to become hit stage musicals. The voluptuous sea witch Ursula in The Little Mermaid took inspiration from drag icons such as Divine and Ashman’s inspirations influenced Frozen, the $1.3bn global box office mega-hit released a decade ago.